Moussa’s Riposte

The debate between Moussa and Aboul Fotouh was a good day for Egypt on many levels. On one critical issue Mr. Moussa reached deep into the Egyptian collective psyche and asked the difficult question about political Islamism (as opposed to Islam).  Is loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood synonymous or even compatible with loyalty to Egypt?  It is the proverbial gorilla in the room. It is especially relevant to the MB, which has often acted as a state within a state. It levies its own taxes, runs its own foreign policy, demands oaths of loyalty to its leader and expends a disproportionate amount of energy hiding its structure and finances. It has lately replaced Mubarak’s party as the “go to” address for all foreign and commercial interests seeking stakes in Egypt.

But the MB, and political Islam in general, needs to answer that question. Are they first and foremost Egyptians with a different religious orientation, and in that case there is definitely room for them in the  political sphere along other Muslims and Copts.  Or are they a trans-national organization dedicated to a pan-Islamic vision with Egypt as simply one tool or component of the strategy. In that case it will be up to the Egyptian public to decide if they are ready for another version of Nasser’s pan-Arab adventurism.

Political Islam is often evaluated based on its effects on Copts, but  its effects can be even more profoundly damaging to Muslims who wish to live as citizens with a broad vision, rather than as pawns in a historical struggle.

Moussa has done everyone a favor by raising the question. Time will tell what the answer will be.

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